As a truck accident lawyer, scheduling demands are perhaps the biggest factor contributing to collisions involving tractor-trailers. The trucking industry is a highly competitive market for both trucking companies and the drivers they employ. The competitive nature of the industry has lead manufacturers who use these trucking companies to set unrealistic expectations of when their goods will be shipped and delivered. Such expectations have forced many trucking companies to increase their production by overloading their vehicles and forcing their drivers to work longer and drive faster.
The rush to get the truck loaded and on the road greatly increases the risk of improper loading. If the truck is not loaded properly, the weight of the haul may not be evenly distributed, causing one side to be heavier than the other. In that case, a quick or sharp turn on the truck driver’s behalf can force the 10,000+ pound vehicle to roll onto the street, down a hill, or onto another vehicle.
Even if the weight of the haul is evenly distributed, pressure from their clients to deliver more goods faster encourages some trucking companies to overload their trucks. In this case, the already 10,000 pound tractor-trailer is hauling more weight than it is designed to carry. This extra weight can make it very difficult for the driver of the truck to brake properly or make a quick evasive maneuver, should the need arise.
The pressure faced by the trucking companies to make fast deliveries is often passed on to the truck drivers themselves in the form of their driving schedules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed required Hours of Services (HOS) regulations for all truck drivers. The HOS governs how long a truck driver can work and how long they must rest or take time off. For example, a driver may work for a maximum of 14 consecutive hours only after 10 off hours. Truckers are required to keep daily logs of their on/off time to be reviewed by their supervisors and the Department of Transportation.
Unfortunately, these HOS rules are not always followed. Drivers may be forced to work longer hours and “fudge” their logs to help the company meet its delivery requirements. In many instances, the driver may have no choice but to accept the shift for fear of losing their job. This over-scheduling of drivers leads to one of the most common causes of trucking accidents- driver fatigue. In order to combat fatigue and meet their deadlines, some truck drivers turn to stimulants ranging from coffee to cocaine. The use of stimulants then presents its own set of concerns including reckless driving, impaired reaction time, and poor judgment.
Other truck drivers refuse to violate the required HOS and choose instead to make up the lost time by driving faster. Any time a driver exceeds the speed limit, the risk of accident is greatly increased. This is especially true of drivers operating commercial trucks. As mentioned above, these vehicles weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds not including the load. The size of these vehicles alone makes it difficult to stop suddenly or make other quick maneuvers. Adding any of the factors listed above seems to make accidents almost unavoidable.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a trucking accident, or for more information regarding commercial trucking safety, contact the experienced trucking attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation and case evaluation. 727-451-6900.